Monday, January 13, 2014

Critterature - My Favorite Literary Pets

by Amanda Forester

As I was writing Winter Wedding (to be released September 2014), my cat, Miles, decided he needed to be in it.  I'm not exactly sure why he decided he was going to be in the story, nor how precisely he conveyed such information, though sitting on my keyboard and incessantly batting at my fingers might have been some slight hint.  All I know is that my heroine was suddenly rescuing a very large, wet, hairy beast, that she impulsively gives to the duchess as a most unwanted pet.  Miles the cat comes in useful later in the story when I need to have my heroine have some logical reason to go into a cellar (you can never know how difficult it is to have characters go into dangerous places and how boring the story would be if they didn't) so I have forgiven my extra large cat the intrusion.

Some of my favorite characters in books have not been human at all, but their animal pets/friends/sidekicks who provide support, compassion, humor, and unconditional love.  One of my favorite scenes in a Georgette Heyer novel is in Arabella, when Arabella manages to convince Mr. Beaumaris to adopt a mongrel dog from the street. The readers know from that moment he is in love with her, even if the main characters won't figure that out for many more chapters.

Some of my favorite books from childhood featured animals who were very much a main character of the story.  I loved the Black Stallion books.  The stallion who will never be tamed, but accepts Alec as a friend, is as much the hero of the story as Alec.  Of course, I was utterly in love with Alec.

Other favorites from childhood include Call of the Wild and Julie of the Wolves.  Canines make great characters because they are always strong and wild, but ferociously loyal and dependable.  I always know if I'm going to like a character or not by how they interact with animals.  If a character is cruel to an animal, the reader instantly knows the character is the villain.

Since I wrote Miles into one of the stories, I am wondering if my new kitten may start getting uppity and decide she needs to be in a novel too. So far she hasn't been too persistent, but  Miles seems to be teaching her bad habits, like how to sharpen her claws on the moldings and how to drink out of my water glass.  I fear it may only be a matter of time before a calico kitten makes her literary debut.  Especially if I need another reason to lure my poor heroine into the cellar...

What is your favorite literary pet character?

12 comments:

  1. I don't know that I have a favorite because more often than not, the dog dies. It infuriates me. It's sad enough to lose a real pet. I don't want to read about it too.

    So long as the animal survives past "The End", I'm all for furry characters. ;-) I'm glad your Miles made it into, and out of, the story!

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    1. Yes! I couldn't agree more, why must they always kill off the devoted pet? There should be some law against killing pets in books. And yes, both my heroine and Miles make it out of the cellar!

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  2. I don't usually put animals in my books, but I do like seeing them in others. I kind of like the hamster in the Stephanie Plum books--Rex.

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    1. Shana - yes, I love the hamster in the Plum books. I had forgotten about him. It was always interesting to see how people responded to the junk food eating rodent!

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  3. The animal I got the most reader comments on was the little gray donkey in Cowboy Seeks Bride. His name was Eeyore (very original LOL) and he became a secondary character.

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    1. Love it! Eeyore is a favorite character for my son. Perfect ame fr a donkey!

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  4. AND I love your cats. My two tom cats are so jealous that yours got to be in a book.

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    1. Sorry if I gave your felines uppity ideas. It doesn't take much fir a cat to think he is (or should be) king!

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  5. I have always loved animals - live or in stories lol. Black Beauty, National Velvet, Old Yeller, Milo and Otis and I could go on lol. I think that is a great idea about the cellar because everyone knows you should never go down in one lol. And I definitely judge people on how they treat them. It's always been a perfect judge of character for me.

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    1. Love those examples, except old Yeller made me cry. Wish our animal friends could live forever! It's strange but I can more easily forgive a character for being mean to another human, but not to a pet!

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  6. I love cats in a story...now I want to add one to mine. You've inspired me, Amanda :)

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  7. I have kitties in almost all of my books. In fact, the cat sort of saves the hero in BITE ME, YOUR GRACE! I think my favorite literary pet is OY from the Dark Tower novels by Stephen King. OY is a billy-bumbler which is like a cross between a dog and raccoon and can talk a little.

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